Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Back in January, after a regular dental visit where Dr D strongly recommended E2 stop sucking her thumb, we hit upon a deal. She'd gotten to a point where she would pop her thumb in while watching TV, while riding somewhere, while watching E1 play a computer game, while listening to someone read her a story. Up until that point, we'd been reminding her to stop(nicely, we instructed E1), and she was to comply (without getting grumpy with us, we instructed E2).

One day, after reminding her in what seemed like ten minute intervals, I not-so-seriously told her that maybe I should start charging her a dime each time I had to remind, but I'd pay her a dime if she made it the whole day without sucking her thumb.

She agreed.

Mentally, it was totally a BWAHAA HAAAHAAA HAAAAAAA - she's falling right into my evil plan! moment.

The first couple of weeks were tough, with her handing over dimes like she was on a toll-way and me beginning to feel like the Thumb Police. I had to scrape up dimes to give her change for her cherished paper dollars. Gradually though, my income dwindled until the day when she went ALL DAY without sucking her thumb! Now, I should add, that our original agreement excluded nap time and bedtime. At 5 1/2, there were still days that she NEEDED a nap and I wasn't about to mess with the one thing that would guarantee she'd get to sleep. Along a similar vein, I wasn't going to be standing over her at bedtime each night making sure she didn't imbibe in a little thumb so she could nod off to Dreamland.

So, once we got to a point where I was forking over a dime every day or so, I offered an incentive; seven days in a row and she'd get a treat to be named later. She saw my challenge and raised me, saying she hoped the treat was ice cream.

Game on, Peanut.

More than a month went by before she finally began a streak - a streak that would last nine (9!) days before we could all go out for that ice cream and celebrate her success. The streak continued for a few more days after that, thirteen, I think, before she began to falter and I had to go back to charging her dimes, but overall, she was on the upswing. It wasn't long before she could make it through the day without a nap (unless she wasn't feeling well, of course) and yet another thumb-sucking time was eliminated. This summer, at her next regular cleaning and check-up, Dr D was thrilled with the news and said he'd pass on our system to other parents. Being the responsible parent that I am, I cautioned him that I had E2's complete buy-in before we began, lest some eager parent berate their kid AND take their dimes. It wasn't something I forced on her.

Bedtime has remained though, and sometimes a quick nip in the mornings before she gets out of bed.

Grandma Carol has offered croc-type shoes, a highly coveted item, for such a time when she finally gives up the thumb.

She's lost both of her bottom front teeth, which has to have changed the overall sensation a bit.

A week or so ago, she hopped out of bed one morning and announced she didn't suck her thumb the night before OR that morning.

"Of course you didn't," agreed Rob, "you don't suck your thumb anymore. Do you?"

Several more mornings followed with that same proclamation, giving me cause to think we were finally there. However, those proclamations have dwindled.

Today I was the parent helper in her kindergarten class. The parent helper's job is to assist at one of the 'centers' stations, and when centers are over the parent is the guest story reader. The entire time Mrs R was talking before my story, and while I was reading, one of the boys was sucking his thumb. He wasn't even trying to be covert about it - just full-on filling the need.

Bedtimes and mornings aren't looking so bad now.


Julia said...

Not too bad! I'm glad she feels proud of herself. I had a friend who did it in high school, especially when she drove.

Anonymous said...

Good for E2!!!!! I'm very proud of her!